Study Guide

The Faerie Queene Book 6, Canto 4

By Edmund Spenser

Book 6, Canto 4

  • Poor Calepine and Serena are in quite a rough situation: Calepine is being attacked by Turpine and Serena is severely injured from the Blatant Beast.
  • Luckily, "a salvage man" (VI.iv.2—think "savage") hears Serena's shouts and runs over to see Calepine being attacked.
  • Although the savage man has never been particularly compassionate before, he suddenly feels very bad for Calepine and decides to intervene.
  • He doesn't carry any weapons, but instead just lunges at Turpine, who at first succeeds in stabbing the savage man but soon finds himself wrestling him.
  • Once the savage man gains the clear advantage, Turpine takes off but the savage man follows him. He almost catches up to him but can't keep pace with Turpine's horse.
  • So the savage man returns to Calepine and Serena, who are both in a bad way, and Serena fears that this savage man means to do them harm.
  • But, instead, he makes signs showing his good intentions, brings herbs for Calepine's wounds, and gestures for them to follow him to safety.
  • They rest in a grassy knoll, grateful to finally be free from danger, and the savage man does his best to tend to them.
  • Soon Calepine recovers, but Serena does not—her wound isn't just physical, but also psychological—and Calepine heads out into the forest to catch some air.
  • While out and about without his sword or armor, Calepine comes across a bear carrying an infant child in its mouth.
  • Calepine feels badly for the baby and decides to help it. And, although it would have been useful to have his weapons with him, he is able to travel faster without them.
  • He catches up to them and seizes the baby from the bear, which angers the bear and the bear attacks.
  • But Calepine grabs a stone and thrusts it into the bear's mouth, causing the bear to choke, and then he strangles the bear. Yeah, dude. He strangles the freaking bear.
  • He then turns to the baby, picks it up and cleans it, and tries to head back to where he was staying but realizes he's lost.
  • He wanders around for a while until finally he finds a way out of the forest.
  • He hears a woman crying and goes up to her to find out what's wrong.
  • She explains that her name is Matilda and she's the wife of Sir Bruin, the lord of this land who conquered it from a giant named Cormoraunt.
  • Things were great except for the fact that she and Bruin were unable to conceive a child or heir, and Bruin worried his kingdom would fall back into the hands of Cormoraunt.
  • Bruin and Matilda then hear a prophecy that says a child will "be gotten, not begotten" (VI.iv.32) and so they hope that they will find a deserving heir soon.
  • But, much time had past, and no such heir has appeared, so that's why Matilda is crying here.
  • Calepine feels bad for her and decides to give her the baby he just found, explaining that often great knights arise from unknown lineages.
  • Matilda is quite happy at this solution. So is Calepine (who has no idea how to take care of the child).
  • Matilda brings it back to Bruin telling him it's his and they all live happily ever after.
  • Meanwhile, Calepine is pining for Serena and for a place to stay. Even though Matilda had offered to take him in, he vows not to rest until he finds his love.